December 2013 • 2013ApJ...778...96W
Abstract • This paper presents a study of the rate and efficiency of star formation in the NGC 6334 star-forming region. We obtained observations at J, H, and Ks taken with the NOAO Extremely Wide-Field Infrared Imager and combined them with observations taken with the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) on the Spitzer Space Telescope at wavelengths = 3.6, 4.5, 5.8, and 8.0 μm. We also analyzed previous observations taken at 24 μm using the Spitzer MIPS camera as part of the MIPSGAL survey. We have produced a point source catalog with >700, 000 entries. We have identified 2283 young stellar object (YSO) candidates, 375 Class I YSOs, and 1908 Class II YSOs using a combination of existing IRAC-based color classification schemes that we have extended and validated to the near-IR for use with warm Spitzer data. We have identified multiple new sites of ongoing star formation activity along filamentary structures extending tens of parsecs beyond the central molecular ridge of NGC 6334. By mapping the extinction, we derived an estimate for the gas mass, 2.2 × 105 M ⊙. The heavy concentration of protostars along the dense filamentary structures indicates that NGC 6334 may be undergoing a "mini-starburst" event with ΣSFR > 8.2 M ⊙ Myr-1 pc-2 and SFE > 0.10. We have used these estimates to place NGC 6334 in the Kennicutt-Schmidt diagram to help bridge the gap between observations of local low-mass star-forming regions and star formation in other galaxies.